Social worker who felt ‘inadequate’ sanctioned by the HCPC

The social worker had not maintained records of children's cases in a timely manner, the panel found

Photo: Nobu/Fotolia

A social worker has been sanctioned by the HCPC after admitting to not maintaining records of children’s cases.

The HCPC found the social worker did not record in a timely manner updates about visits, meetings or assessments in relation to 16 different service users.

His performance was of concern to the council for four years before he was dismissed in 2014, the HCPC panel heard, and he received regular support and supervision throughout this period.

A 2014 review of the social worker’s performance said he had not achieved “acceptable professional standard of recording and caseload and time management”, and that he had “an obvious lack of confidence” in his ability to improve.

The social worker admitted to the failings, and submitted a reflective statement to the panel accepting the need for social workers to maintain accurate records. A consent order – which allows a registrant to provisionally agree an outcome with the HCPC – was taken out as he admitted the failings and there was no need for a contested hearing.

High workload

In mitigation for his failings, he told the panel that delays in some of his cases of three to six months were unacceptable and cited “the high workload that he was under”. He also said he felt inadequate and that there was “an impact on his health”.

“The registrant concedes there is a potential negative impact from the lack of adequate recording and relevant reporting, on the council, service users, families, the reputation of social workers and other professionals,” the panel said in its judgement.

The panel decided to impose a two-year conditions of practice order on the social worker.

“The registrant acknowledges that if records are not kept, there is no evidence that visits took place and/or that the work concerned has been undertaken,” the panel said.

“There is an admission that public confidence in social workers would be affected if it was known that he was not documenting information properly, meaning that vital information could be missed.”

Last year, the social worker began a job as a residential support worker. He said the time away from social work and the competency process with the HCPC had helped him “find better skills to enable him to deal with adverse situation”.

He said he would like to return to social work in the future, but this would not be in a frontline service such as child protection.

As part of the conditions of practice order, he must keep the HCPC updated on any return to social work practice he makes. He must also develop a personal development plan with a supervisor if he is employed as a social worker and have regular reviews of how he can meet that plan.

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22 Responses to Social worker who felt ‘inadequate’ sanctioned by the HCPC

  1. Paul January 24, 2017 at 9:49 am #

    It is about time HCPC began to challenge employers as case loads are often too high and many workers do work late and weekends for no extra pay. High caseloads and long hours are becoming the norm.

    • Stressed January 24, 2017 at 8:19 pm #

      How has the employer been sanctioned?

    • Emily January 26, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

      I agree with you completely. It only fits to punish the Social worker without addressing the underlying issue of heavy caseload.

  2. H January 24, 2017 at 11:04 am #

    there may have been problems with this social workers case management over a long period
    But yet again hcpc do nothing about high workloads and stress

  3. Peter Endersby January 24, 2017 at 3:11 pm #

    What is the HCPC there for if it nevery challenges these systemic failings in social work. Teachers had the General Teaching Council which was also a toothless bureaucracy but that died out a whlie back.

  4. Borstal Boy January 24, 2017 at 4:08 pm #

    How awful must the “supervision” have been to not notice a six month time lapse. They failed in their duty too, are they sanctioned? Yet again the first line get the punishment whilst the supervisors seem impervious. There seems to be a lot of this going on. He was sacked and then also referred to HCPC so gets double sanction. No wonder people don’t come forward for help

  5. Billy Bob January 24, 2017 at 8:24 pm #

    It would be interesting to know exactly what “regular support” he received from his employer because a lot of staff need more than just monthly (if they’re lucky) supervision to support them with their caseloads.
    I find it very disheartening that every article I read about HCPC hearings place the blame on the practitioner but management are not held to any account. Very sad as this is supposed to be a regulator of a “caring” profession – where is our care and support to help us do our jobs?

  6. Amy January 24, 2017 at 8:25 pm #

    I blame the management there is no excuse for any social worker to feel like that. Inadequate supervision is not good enough and the hcpc should look at that as this is a requirement. I have crap supervision when I worked for a local authority and left because there was no support. This social worker should have had a support plan or a action plan.

  7. Spike January 24, 2017 at 8:41 pm #

    Hcpc is not a fit regulatory body for social workers or social care workers. You only need to compare the numbers of proceedings or sanctions to the number carried out by Care Council for Wales!!!!! Social workers are in a double bind with case recording, research tells us time and time and again that the very thing that makes a difference to the lives of vulnerable children and families is the relationships that social workers and other support agencies are able develop. These relationships take time and effort. They also involve being out of the office for lengthy periods and they generate lots of recording. Ahhhhhhh, then the social worker should think ahead and plan a regular admin day…….. So you have a beautiful virginal diary in your shiny sherwood diary when a teenager on your caseload becomes homeless, or a foster placement breaks down, a child your working with in an out of county placement makes a disclosure and is asking for you, a parent phones up sobbing saying they are about to be evicted? What do you do? Your case recording? Which isn’t just stored in your head from memory, it’s in a series of detailed notes in hard bound note books…… Or do you prioritise the actual child, the actual human beings you are working with? Because these are not rare out of the blue happenings, they are DAILY EVENTS!!!!!!!!! Local Authorities, the assistant directors and heads of service now seem to be ROUTINELY reporting social workers to HCPC because they are unable to fit 12-14 hours work into an eight hour day. Rather than actually dealing with the issue…… Because the paperwork is all important….. Remember peeps, paper protects children….. All the research indicates that….. Oh no, actually it doesn’t.

    • R January 25, 2017 at 11:38 pm #

      Well said! And so accurate! Your damned if you do and damned if you don’t do it leads to you working outside of your paid hours. Yet if you don’t and things don’t get done then that’s our fault..

      • Another Social Worker January 27, 2017 at 10:07 pm #

        Couldn’t agree more . Social Workers are frequently expected to do the impossible. There needs to be a massive cultural shift within social work to address systemic failures . I would like to see senior managers put there money where their mouth is and manage a typical caseload they expect the social workers to. Show us how they can do it before they start criticising.

  8. karen January 24, 2017 at 9:05 pm #

    And who made him feel inadequate…his employer and the HCPC no doubt!

  9. Alex January 25, 2017 at 12:40 am #

    HCPC always blind to the needs of the social worker… The worker has Union representation ( good if he / she is lucky) whereas the employer has tax payers money at their disposal to hide their own failings. The system is rigged against the social worker from the start. I have been a witness for the employer at such hearings…I know the dirty underhanded tactics poor managers use . Even when HCPC realises managers are lying they take no action. We need to ditch HCPC fast and bring some real professionalism and justice to social work regulation.

  10. JustLikeYou January 25, 2017 at 2:13 pm #

    I fully understand where this practitioner is coming from; It seems that this unfortunate individual was hung out to dry, just like many others I read about on here.

    Every time I read these articles about the sanctions imposed upon front line staff there is never any mention of the scrutiny applied to all the respective tiers of the structure/system of the local authority children’s service within which they practice; clearly this is because HCPC believe that front line staff are entirely accountable for such practice issues.

    Social Workers do not practice in isolation and failures are therefore rarely entirely attributable to individual practitioners. Surely, the HCPC must recognise this? apparently not….

  11. Nell January 25, 2017 at 2:17 pm #

    The HCPC – I have looked into a large number of their cases, particularly where SWs have been struck off. It is shocking to me as a senior manager who has had to conduct complex investigations that they are so superficial and so clearly influenced by the LA bringing the case that they are almost inevitably going to pin the blame on one person – the social worker.
    I object to paying them money to abuse workers in this way – by not bringing parity and balance (which should be their JOB) .

    Their past record (all there to view publicly)shows they are an abomination but would probably do very well as Daily Mail reporters. I do hope they enjoyed their £17k Christmas lunch on our subscriptions and I do hope it was the last one that we paid for.

  12. Ryan January 25, 2017 at 3:34 pm #

    Each and every SW should take responsibility for their practice. Dismissal and Sanctions therefore legitimate and justified. Completely agree focus should be on what management were doingoing and need to reduce caseloads. However, the actions of the practitioner impact on the vulnerable people we work with so this SW is accountable.

  13. Denise Poole January 25, 2017 at 4:31 pm #

    Right on Spike!

  14. Frustrated January 25, 2017 at 7:06 pm #

    HCPC is a regulator of (individual) professionals – in this case social workers. It is NOT a professional body that can campaign for increased standards for employers. There are memorandums of understanding with CQC, Ofsted etc. where it is apparent that systemic failings have been exposed in a fitness to practice case. If an (incompetent) Manager is a registered social worker a complaint can be made against them too. HCPC like the other regulators (e.g. NMC) are themselves overseen by the PSA (Professional Standards Authority), who review all FTP decisions and often take these to high court where they feel the regulator has been too lenient. Believe it or not HCPC decisions have been seen as too lenient by the PSA. Any future regulator would most likely be overseen by the PSA too. The College of Social Work had a chance to raise standards for employers and BASW still do but this is done by a professional body NOT a dedicated regulator. If we continue to think this is what regulation is about people will continue to be disappointed.

    • Ruth Cartwright February 1, 2017 at 12:19 pm #

      There are employer standards (developed I think in parallel with or subsequent to the employee standards of the old GSCC (our former regulators). There were attempts to make adherence to these standards part of CQC and OFSTED inspections, but they seem to have quietly disappeared.

  15. Jeannette January 25, 2017 at 8:28 pm #

    And they wonder why no one is interested in becoming a social worker. My question is where is the union representative in all of this?

  16. Lisa hewitt January 25, 2017 at 9:08 pm #

    Well said Spike !! feeling exasperated

  17. Vicki January 28, 2017 at 2:12 pm #

    There but for the grace of God go I …